Political patronage, nomenklatura, old boys network, nepotism, these are all terms that come up when you look at the Dutch system of appointments in the public administration. Membership of a political party is in many cases a precondition for a public function. The father of the Dutch constitution, Thorbecke, wanted to exclude this in the Constitution. Article 3 in this Constitution says that every Dutch citizen can be appointed on an equal footing in public service. We believe that a job as Mayor, civil servant, a member of an Advisory Board of a independent administrative authority should go to the best person, regardless whether he or she is a member of a political party or not.
Therefore we started a civil initiative to stop party political appointments. If our civil initiative gets 40.000 signatures, the Second Chamber must discuss and vote about it. Make sure that they cannot avoid this and – if you are a Dutch citizen above 18 years old - sign up too: www.meerdemocratie.nl/benoemingen
Why to open public function for everybody?
- It is a fundamental right. Article 3 of the Constitution says: “ All Dutch citizens can be appointed on an equal footing in public service". Article 1 bans discrimination on grounds of political affiliation.
- 97,5 % of Dutch adults are not a party member. So at this moment the Dutch government excludes many qualified persons.
- Advisory Councils should be independent an therefore it is better that they are not filled with members of the same few parties who know each other very well and are part of the same system.
- Dutch people don’t like politicians who help each other to get jobs. Party political appointments undermine the confidence in the Government and the support for decisions, and therefore the politics itself.
What we propose?
Party political appointments are only possible because the parties made an exception in the Equal Treatment Act, that establishes the principle of non-discrimination, about appointments in the public administration (art 5 lid 4). They have given themselves a license to discriminate, so to speak.
That exception should be deleted. Instead we want to install – after the example of Great Britain – an independent watchdog who gets a heavy role in the selection process and which has the legal assignment to base appointment on merit, impartiality, and openness. Then the best person can get the job, whether he or she is a party member or not. The government or individual minister are not longer responsible for the appointments then.
Dutch people agree with us
Commissioned by Meer Democratie, the research firm I&O Research did a representative study of the opinions and attitudes of Dutch people about appointments. 60% find party political appointments undesirable. 70 % support the English system of appointments. Noteworthy is that party members and non-party members barely disagree on this point.
Help to get 40.000
Only if we get 40.000 valid signatures, the Second Chamber cannot ignore this theme. It is therefore important that you, if you are a Dutch citizen of at least 18 years old, sign: www.meerdemocratie.nl/benoemingen
Help to reach as many people as possible and tell your friends about this citizen initiative. After your signature you can easily share this champagne through social media and email.
The Direct Democracy Navigator informs about the instruments of direct democracy in the Netherlands. Check them out here.
Text by Arjen Nijeboer, Meer Democratie Netherlands. Arjen Nijeboer is a board member of Democracy International.